Disasters come in many forms, from personal injury or illness to natural disasters and man-made events.
Due to the unforeseen nature of emergencies it is a wise idea to have a plan in place in case something happens to you, or an outside force creates a situation where you can no longer be social online.
It’s a good idea to be realistic about the sort of disasters that could strike. I have split up some typical ones into two main categories. What are the disasters that could strike you and your business?
Other DisastersBuilding evacuated
Loss of Information
Loss of Power
Once you have assessed these for yourself and your business, you need to think about how to craft an overall plan to deal with them.
Backup AdminDo you have a backup Admin for your social media networking accounts? If not, it might be time to add someone you trust with another admin account.
Choosing the right person can be difficult, but it is worth spending some time on. They should:
• Be someone you trust
• Have some knowledge of social media and how it works
• Have the right personality – calm in a crisis, honest, and dependable are all good traits.
Train ThemIt’s not good enough to just have someone else have access, you have to think about what they would do in case something happens to you.
Training your backup admin around what you do and how you post would be a great idea.
If you have multiple networks you post on, think about whether you want one person for all of them, or different people for each.
Tone & StyleHow do you engage with your fans? If someone will be taking the reins in your absence, do they know what your style is? This is important if you need someone else to take over while you are out of action for a while.
PasswordsPasswords are something we have been trained to keep close to our heart and not share, but it is very important you have someone else who knows your passwords or at least know where they are written down.
Again, find someone you can trust and supply them with a copy or at least let them know where they can find the list.
Backup InformationThere is nothing worse than realising all your hard work for the last couple of years is gone.
This is exactly what can happen to you if you rely on only one source to hold your files. Backing up is extremely important as it allows you to recover lost information due to hacking, corrupted files and natural disasters.
It is also a good idea to back up your files to an online source, like Amazon, Dropbox or similar place. This is important as it stores your files in a second location in case your first location is destroyed (by fire, flood or other disaster).
Time OutHave you given thought to what you would do if you had limited or no access to your networks? This could be due to power outages, no internet connection, or being hacked.
Is there a way you can get someone else to post for you, or another way you can post. For example, most social networks and blogs have a way to post via email if all other options are closed to you.
EmployeesIf you have help from current employees, do you know what will happen if something happens to them or they leave?
Are they going to take your fans and followers with them? (See ownership below). Can you or someone else take over in case they leave suddenly? How long will it take to get a suitable replacement? What will you do in the meantime?
OwnershipIs it clear who owns the information you have on your networks? Make sure you have a clear written understanding of who owns what when you have other people posting for you.
Do they understand what they create and post belongs to you and your business? Is this clear to all involved?
Write this out and get your employees to read and sign it, saying they understand it.
Scheduled PostsMake sure you have a quick way to cancel any scheduled posts. They can prove very dangerous to your brand in certain situations.
Imagine a situation where you have scheduled a week’s worth of posts all about your sales and then your store in forced to close due to a natural disaster or illness? This could look embarrassing at best and make people angry at worst.
Upcoming PromotionsMake sure you include a get out of jail free clause in your terms & conditions for any promotions. You do write terms & conditions for your promotions don’t you?
This can be as simple as the following:
If for any reason any aspect of this promotion is not capable of running as planned including by reason of infection by computer virus, tampering, bugs, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures or any cause beyond the control of the Promoter, the Promoter may elect to terminate, modify or suspend the Promotion at any time at their absolute discretion without liability to any entrant or other person.
Offline MessageIf disaster does strike, have you created a standard “Offline” message you (or someone else) can quickly post to your social media sites?
The best idea is to keep it vague enough to cover most emergencies. Try this one:
Due to unforeseen circumstances we will not be posting anything for a short time. We will post more information soon. Thanks for your understanding.
Social Media GuidelinesHaving a simple social media guidelines document is a great idea as it will let other know what your policy is when it comes to social media. And it is a great reminder for you as well.
Stuff to include:
- What it covers, from social networking sites (Facebook) to company blogs (including comments) to forums and discussion boards (Yahoo! Groups) to online encyclopedias (Wikipedia)
- Who someone needs approval from to post
- Who they represent when posting and full disclosure of this
- Types of subject matter they can post
- Protecting copyrights and private information – yours as well as third parties
- Privacy concerns and the protection of customers personal information
- Responsibility of what is posted
- What happens in case of bad press, or negative feedback
One of the best ways to mitigate and control (as much as possible) disasters is to prepare for and pre-empt them.
There are several ways you can do this, such as planning and creating contingency plans and documents. But you can also mitigate a lot of the fallout by building a strong and happy community in the first place.
If your social networking community believe in you and what your business is trying to achieve and have trust in you, they are more likely to have understanding (and even help out) when disaster strikes.
You cannot control disasters but you can plan for them and have a set of guidelines in place to help you deal with them.
Do you have a social media contingency plan in place?
Russell Allert's passion is to help people achieve their dreams. Baked Social Media's main goal is to help small business owners grow their businesses online using social media.
The opinions expressed by the author and and those providing comments are theirs alone.